Current events and this entire past year and a half have taken a toll on all of us. Stress levels have skyrocketed and sometimes it feels impossible to deal with it all. Yet, human beings are actually exceptionally good at coping with stress. Equipped with problem-solving skills and societal encouragement, our ancestors were able to survive and handle the pressures of harsh environmental conditions during the hunter-gatherer era. However, there are still many circumstances under which we inevitably reach the tipping point of our physiological and psychological balance, and when we have to endure high levels of stress, it affects our performance. The link between chronic stress and performance has long been reported as a significant factor behind definable mental and physiological reactions in the body. Stress targets the weakest parts of the body, which in turn creates a burden on many aspects of one’s livelihood and well-being. But good news, although stress is unavoidable, it is manageable.
Before we begin the conversation regarding stress management, it is crucial to be aware of the stress hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is one of the main hormones produced by the endocrine system, involved in managing response to stress, and it was the key hormone that kept our ancestors alive. It works by increasing the production of glucose that was broken down from the liver to facilitate a sudden energy boost into “fight or flight” mode in order to confront immediate threats. However, this is not a long-term solution, and therein lies the problem.
The contemporary urban lifestyle has many of us working long hours with little rest, and we have become accustomed to light pollutants and unhealthy diets. These stimulants signal to our bodies to keep us in a perpetual “fight or flight” mode as we are exposed to the consistent stressors. Constantly being in this physiological state gives us chronic stress and causes various unwelcome symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, headaches, intestinal problems, anxiety, depression, increased blood pressure, and poor sleep quality.
So how does CBD fit into all of this?
CBD is believed to play a vital role in stress management as studies have shown that it interferes with Cortisol secretion. CBD is thought to interact and activate the 5-HT serotonin receptors that are primarily found within the central and peripheral nervous systems, thereby acting like a substitute for serotonin which works with antidepressant properties. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in maintaining both mental health and overall well-being. Low serotonin concentrations are usually linked to depression or anxiety, so keeping a balanced serotonin level is essential for people suffering from mental disorders. A study found that while CBD does not affect prolactin or growth hormone levels, it was associated with a significant drop in cortisol. Another study showed that CBD helps improve depression and anxiety symptoms, including improvement in respect to sleep quality and appetite. Research has suggested that CBD boosts signaling through serotonin receptors and helps to restore the body’s equilibrium.
Right now, the most common treatment for anxiety symptoms related to low serotonin levels is pharmaceutical medication like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). However, with the benefits and the minimal side effects of CBD, more and more people are starting to opt for CBD products in place of pharmaceutical drugs to prevent the high likelihood of adverse side effects and potential misuse. The property that CBD has to potentially help balance the patient's serotonin level makes it a rather popular choice to treat their anxiety symptoms. The treatment of your symptoms mainly depends on the severity of your conditions, so it is necessary to choose a combination of uses and dosages that’s most suitable for your lifestyle. We encourage you to try and experiment with the differences in uses and dosage to find what works best just for you.
Though it’s not necessarily a replacement for prescribed medication, CBD products can offer a lot of natural relief for stress and anxiety and in our (unbiased!) opinion, are definitely worth a try. Instead of covering up existing symptoms with medication only to be met with new side effect symptoms, eliminating the root cause of stress and anxiety is the better bet for improving overall health.